EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

.......93 The Blame Trap.....................................................................................Contents Foreword..................83 Suffering.................................35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option.......................9 Carp Fishing..135 What do You Want to do?............................................................................68 Looking Out...................................108 The Reciprocal Universe..........................................126 Waterfall.........................................................103 The Power of Books...................................................................................................64 Intention.........................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good......................118 They Laughed at Lowry.......60 Have Your Cake and Eat It................................................................153 .......................................23 Easy...................................................86 The Art of Restriction.......27 Everest...............................................................................................................................................................................140 Who am I to be a Success?..............................................................................................................................................................122 Time...............................98 The Pornographic Wasp....................................................................................................................................149 You Are What You Ingest..............................7 Be Nice............................................................114 There is No Land Rover.........80 Reciprocal Returns........131 We Are All Dying.... Looking In.............................................................75 Night-travellers.............................................................47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support.................................................41 Goals....18 Change Chaser...........................14 Catching Crabs .........................................

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Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. Geoff Thompson 7 . don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes.) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. I hope this proves to be just that. (And whatever you do. quick read. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. magazines and my website.

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as long as you are not being nice for profit. There is a massive profit in being nice. not because it is sweet. The poem went. rather because it is true. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. 9 .’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. How bizarre.

The business world can often be a very difficult. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. courage in business. risk taking. lost it. It is not hard. from theology to philosophy and law. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. about profit and loss. Simply be nice. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. and dedication. about morals. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. The books have all been enlightening. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. Nobody does 10 . Some quoted great sages. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. the art of making a living. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. made it and squandered it. about ethics.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. made it and given it all away. cynical environment. lost it and made it back again. innovation. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. speculation.

People are throwing work at him. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. What you give out always returns. The best. He is a dynamo. I have a friend. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . his work ethic even more so. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. most attractive. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. Paul Abbot. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. For those who don’t know him.BE NICE anything for nothing. who is an incredibly successful writer. There is no such thing as a free lunch. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. Always. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. You’d be wrong. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. He never stops giving. But of course this is not true. Clocking Off. He never stops being nice. It is the law. both with his time and his advice. most inspiring people in my world are all nice. He is also an extremely generous man. His work is amazing. They are all generous. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. State of Play.

as is Paul. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. people will help them tighten their game. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. Glenn is thriving in business and life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. If they are nice. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. And I am not talking 12 . Ultimately. The effect is amazing. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. or offer them anything other than gratitude. struggling writers. people will go out of their way to find. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. even create work for them. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. Similarly.

it will only find permanent abode with those who do. 13 . unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. nice to fit in or even nice to impress. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom.BE NICE about pseudo-nice. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person. There is no profit in being nice. People like it when you are nice. I am only talking about the genuine article.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. nice for the effect. Being nice because it helps others.) But I would argue that if you are not nice.

the teaching. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. As you can imagine 14 .Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. As well as the tour. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. of which Edinburgh was but one. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. and the heavy travelling schedule.

Peter has always been a mentor to me. But I was handling it OK. my profile. my success. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel.CARP FISHING I was stretched. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. until fate intervened. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. In fact. that is. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. tapes and 15 . It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. I was becoming anxious and angry. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. Someone – disgruntled by my work. in fact. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin.

‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. split up with his wife and even lost his home. it’s not starving children in Africa. Peter listened intently. had actually become his whole world. dumfounded. thought to himself. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. started taking medication. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. what had started out as a gentle pastime. he was accused of using illegal bait. ‘Geoff. It’s not cancer. his family. It was more important to him than his wife. 16 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. it had become everything. Just before one of the major championships. ‘It’s just carp fishing. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. his life. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. his home. nay ruined. It’s carp fishing. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. it’s not war in the Middle East. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today.

‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. As Peter said to me. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. His father asked him. and what has stayed with me ever since. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. and as we should all know.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. an individual. far from being important. It was an opinion. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. His father said. It’s not life and death. 17 .CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving. Geoff. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. was just carp fishing. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. and a few letters. ‘It’s one man. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. about not letting things become bigger than they really are.

What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. yet still they didn’t try to escape. 18 . in no time at all. After a few minutes it became clear to me why.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and. even when the fishermen removed the lid. not them kind).

my peers. ‘Oh about thirty years. had pulled me back again.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory.’ he said without hesitation. tired of the unchanging replies.’ Similarly. The old guy. her face turned rolled-in-flour white. ‘This is a steady job. on the offensive.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. thought for a second.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. The old crab. went straight to work. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling.’ I’d whine. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. (In fact.’ came the usual response. I’d been there six years. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly. like the crabs. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. claws raised. ‘I hate the place.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. 19 . ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again. face like a walnut. It’s safe. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.

the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. I had a family. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. a mortgage. Even today. 20-years on. I noticed that. after being pulled back a few times. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . three children. HP payments. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind.

Then one night. if I really wanted to leave the factory. I nearly fell over with the shock. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. But. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. even mountains would crumble. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. I convinced myself. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. my wife did something unprecedented. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. it wasn’t my fault. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. She retracted her claws. leave the city. 21 . The fault was entirely mine.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. even leave the country for that matter. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. She wasn’t holding me back at all. Well. She gave me her permission.

22 . I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. This was my world. I snatched back my free will. so many places to go. I have never looked back. It was brilliant. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. So much to do. I made a decision. I could and would handle it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. I could be anything. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. my incarnation. exciting and scary. I climbed out of the basket. Me.

and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. That price tag is change.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. To me. even if. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. but getting what you want comes with a price tag. ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. I 23 .Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. at the time.

we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. This change can cause temporary. Death of the old. He said that we should. even permanent disorientation. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. the out-worn. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. Only very few people in society really get this. the worn-out and the redundant. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. face it and chase it. ‘Be the change we want to see. go out and. rather than run from the change. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 .’ In other words. Change chasers are the leaders of this world.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. a complete change of who you are. on looking through.

offers us a choice. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. So you have a choice. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. You can’t have one without the other. you de-fang it. an exciting and empowering third option. we see the birth of the butterfly.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. be the change. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. Death of the old. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. 25 . ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. If you can be the change. God’s great gift to mankind. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. only our resistance to it. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. if you live the change. birth of the new. if you are the change. it just as certainly means birth. But our free will. to garner our courage and be the constant. It is the only constant. bang on our bag gloves.

What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now. 26 .

27 . Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy. I write films for a living.’ Really? Writing is my passion. It’s easy. But easy? I don’t think so. Writing is easy.’ they say. but then everything is easy in hypothesis. It is what I do. I love it. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job.Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. ‘he writes all day. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand.

Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. (I’ll fucking show you. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. It 28 . My first film went into production in January 2007. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. In this industry that is not unusual. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. of course.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. ‘It happened so quickly. This is important. People said. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. Everyone said. It hurt.

I developed an iron resolve. No one wanted to make it. had been done before. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. the producer and Neil Thompson. of course. I loved it. Natasha Carlish. I could go on but I think the point it clear. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. It was too bleak. All the rebuttals. the director) over two million pounds in finance. and I) financed it ourselves. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. but… I liked it. No one has it easy. so we (the producer.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. No one thought it was good enough to finance. The film that won the BAFTA. It weathered me like an old oak. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. too harsh. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. Life is difficult. 29 .

’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. judgmental and a bastard to boot.’ 30 . He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. He was in bits.Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me. behind the times. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water. I knew the feeling. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting.

31 .EVEREST This knock-back. in shape and filmable. despite his set-back. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). It can be soul destroying. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. had all but floored him. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. It is tough at the high end of any business. With a slight change in perception. he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. but you can’t by-pass it. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. where millions are lost on bad films. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. not least film-making. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. He felt his work was ready. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. after all. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception.

that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. meticulous even. at base camp. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. Now. To make his dream a reality. 32 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. that is. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets. he could run a fast marathon.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. His training was good. He thought that this would be enough. he never really heeded the council. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. Until. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath.

The higher you go the less there is. He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. when you are on the mountain. I’m a fit man. ‘Look.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . There is no air. ‘you don’t understand. It’s a high mountain.’ Again. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). He was fit. all experienced climbers.’ he insisted. he complained. I should be able to breathe easier. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. it’s a good day’).’ And here endeth the lesson. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. this is the norm. I need to hear it sometimes. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. I am conditioned. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal.EVEREST He complained to his companions. ‘No.

the lack of help. It always gets me psyched up. the inadequate industry support.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. complaining about the discomfort. back on my feet and moving. then so be it. Then I remind myself of this story. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). 34 .

so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. 35 . ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke.) I. on the other hand. tilted a similar lance in my direction. He has had it so easy. etc. family issues.’ Another friend. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. he lives a charmed life.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity). a fellow writer. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life.

He had cancer. It was an even longer night. My lovely dad died recently.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. disliked by none. It was good. He was loved by many. it is cause for celebration. It found its way into his bones. how to die with dignity. They were all right. And that is not just good. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home.m. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old.’ It was a long day. phone call and my heavy heart bled. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. 36 . It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. My dad lived a good life. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. Then he died. He was a good man. I got the five a. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. Let me try and explain. He was right. how to live bravely. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good.

My brother died violently. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. It was not 37 . She is now happy and training to be a teacher. not her sisters. so much so that the love affair killed him. not her mum – could break her out. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. When he died. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. There was more to it than that. it was not me he called out for. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. She recovered. you can guess the rest.’ I trusted that this was true and it was. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. I loved his very bones. well.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. but what happened to my daughter was good. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and.’ I said. of course. When she lay in that hospital bed.

My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. 38 . It is her story. For that reason alone. What is happening obviously needs to happen. They will (they have and will again) save others. It is her soul. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. I loved him. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. nor my dad’s. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. The illness is self-inflicted. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. My brother’s death was good. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. It is her body. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. But it was good. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. everything I write about and everything I think. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. It was difficult. It is her life. That is ultimately where we are all heading.

self-harm and illness. more beautiful place. especially my back-story. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. a better. I also fucked around. Each of these. No self-pity here. 39 . So it has all been good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. The pre-fight. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. however. We all have to atone. It was all good. Much of it does not make easy reading. lost my integrity. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. stole. No regrets. mentally and spiritually. physically. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. self-hate. Very good. guilt. betrayed my ex-wife. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. It has been hard to forgive myself.

so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. So. 40 . if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I will continue to drink my tea. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. Because I know they’re right. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. I do. he’s got it so easy. And when folks say.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. Everything that happens to me is. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. neither will I complain because it will all be good.’ I will continue to smile. so profound.

Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. do you think. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers. Though. Instead I 41 . I admit.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates.

And yet when we examine the world in which we live. Where I once toiled for shallow. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. but I’ll never 42 . sinewy mentality. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. when we closely examine our own lives. surface mastery – hitting hard.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. lifting heavy weights. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. but very few actually putting it into practise. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. ‘I’ll forgive you. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. looking good. Oh.

‘Yea. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. It takes strength. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. a physiological fight-or-flight. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. that’s a horse of a different colour. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. You can do it without even trying. You either do or you do not. I can’t forgive her. Holding a grudge is easy. but you don’t know what she did to me.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. To forgive! Now then.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. as though it were a great virtue. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. It is not virtuous.

who you haven’t forgiven. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. if you like. therefore. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. bladder and bowel. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. and you have a recipe for disaster. We do not. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. under those circumstances. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). your body actually relives them too. even death. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. a saber-toothed tiger. as though for the very first time. intestines. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. lungs. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them.

what I was letting others do to me. working as a nightclub bouncer. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. or more specifically.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. In my younger days. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. ‘I will never forgive.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. I held many grudges. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. I often bragged to others that. Forgive 45 . I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. In my experience. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. and for several years. Forgiveness needs to be localised.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. I also felt empowered.

forgive yourself and move on. We all have skeletons in our closets. What ever they are. forgiveness is cathartic. As far as health and fitness is concerned. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. Start with yourself. 46 . So if you want to stay fit for life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. start with a little forgiveness.

about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. the staff. I always find myself asking.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. People want success but they don’t know what in. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. however. what they thought of the campus. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation. the library. I admire those that aim for the top. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. 47 . ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. In fact. Interesting. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. in their health. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. life itself) was posed. even disturbing. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. ‘If you have goals. their relationships. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. you’ll probably agree. The four per cent were also financially independent. even disappointing. It was agreed. This time. But not enough to write home to mum about. between them 48 . What was interesting. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. in their community and financial affairs. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly.

They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. If you don’t have them. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. risk. you don’t get them.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. it is fundamental. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. You need a definite destination. commitment and sacrifice. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. but about time. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. And I am not necessarily talking about money. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. And they are right. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. It makes them official.

or the port of beer-and-curry.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. You have to get your eating down to a fine art. They don’t want to pay the price. if necessary). But very few make it because the journey 50 . To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. for instance. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. He is in fabulous physical shape.

GOALS is too arduous.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. or even worse. working on the finer points and setting the right course. back where they started. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. It’s about the detail. Setting the right course It is easy to say. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. I know a million people that workout. making all the right noises. Next on the course is the training. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times.

in altering one or two minor points. but I was practising it wrong. those who are already where you want to be. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . He knew the right course. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. I reached my goal in record time. If you don’t know the way. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. to destruction in fact. he altered my entire course. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. I practised hard and daily. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. In fact. Never mistake activity for progress. ask the right people. And hey. presto. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. when I sparred with other players. You could be the hardest worker in the world. He looked at my technique and. Consequently. I got it. but my course was off.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. we’ve established this much. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands. The danger of goals Goals are essential. I rarely pulled the throw off. The destination was set. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer.

53 . we hit low. He asked Steve to take his place. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. guess what.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. He set himself a goal of five miles. one of his friends at the running club. it was double his usual distance. Steve was unsure. Sometimes we aim low and. we nearly always do. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. but a common attitude nevertheless. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. He was capable of more. Dave. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. The next week. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. I might not make it. If I try for more. ‘I’m being realistic. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. When we set goals. ‘But. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. I think you’ll agree. I know I can do five. The other day he went out for a jog.’ he always told me. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. had to pull out of a ten-mile race.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. My friend Steve is a keen runner. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough.

but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed. I would say.’ Steve ran the race. So aim higher than you think you can manage. Paradoxically. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. ‘Impossible. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. ‘Watch this space.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically.’ said his friends. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it.’ Dave said. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits. ‘just set your sights on ten.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. but not so high you lose sight of your goal. He is now preparing for his first marathon. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate.

Instead. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. Eventually. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. as the calf matured and fattened. Day by day. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). Milo’s strength grew to compensate. he grew with the bull. It could be anything. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. build your business or increase your fitness level. Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. By picking up the bull as it grew. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. a college degree or a promotion at work. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. Like Milo. you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. It isn’t always advisable to try. Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). For Milo. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. rather it might be your business.

eat. 56 . You can jump steps. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. they scale to the summit of the mountain. when the weather is clement. they attempt the peak. They make their way first to a base camp. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. They set themselves daily goals. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. I’m not saying that this is the only way. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. then step by step. It can be done. When they get within reach of the top they rest. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. climb up more than one rung at a time. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. They buy a small house. acclimatise. acclimatise and then. It is all done in pyramidic steps. If conditions are favourable. Others thrive on it.

My mum. the weight fell off him. the discipline. worried about his health.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. the tenacity. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . as you might imagine. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. The real value of setting goals is not. As the dinner sizes decreased. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas.

in actuality they have.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. He can’t. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. their dream. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. free of charge. 58 . the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. symbols of their courageous quest. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. But he doesn’t. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. On the journey. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. flying monkeys.

nothing is beyond us. I don’t ask myself. I can have anything. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. Whatever your goal. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. Rather I ask myself. When I look at my lofty. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. 59 . mountains will move and rivers will part. we all can.

ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives. a loss. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. our health and the love and health of those dear to us.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. 60 . all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have.

she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. mentally and physically – for the day. from four until six a. is better than a pound of cure. We all need a bit of invisible support. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. One ounce of prevention. Deepak Chopra. It would be unwise 61 . They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. after all. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude.). They start their day not by asking for more.m. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. This is how great people achieve great things. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer.

less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. It takes discipline. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . But if you were to start now. end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. however. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. insight. They say that pain is a good advisor. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). destined-to-arrive tomorrow. and it is. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). being more patient. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. while the idea is fresh in your mind.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. you. they (me. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). You might.

likely with the promise that. 63 . we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. ‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’).GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again.

Now I don’t know about you. I have tried all the fad diets. to the size of a small continent. but as a man with the propensity to grow.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. And they all work… but only for a while. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. after a two-week holiday in Florida. isn’t it? 64 . It’s depressing. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation.

My food-abuse period was over. I can be good for months at a time. my legs start going all Sumo. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. sometimes even longer. In fact. though. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. weight gain. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. I take every opportunity 65 . but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. Then I hit 30. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight.

And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. A man needs his strength after all. a dark cloud descends on my day. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. As I said. When the weight is on. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. rationalisation. When I’m thin. wine. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. take-away curries. I have tried them all. And the apparel changes accordingly. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. however.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs.

but it works. In the meantime. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut. and you can never let up. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop.’ 67 .HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. Have some of what you want. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. but not all of what you want. Geoffrey. It’s difficult. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life.

This is both exciting and terrifying.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God.’ The truth is neither. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe. We are creators of denial. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident.

anyone. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. They blame no one. if you blame the government. Those that take responsibility 69 .INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. You always become a prisoner of those you blame. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. your country. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. to blame. If you blame God. Similarly. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. society. city or town. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering.

I resided consecutively. In my time I have created health. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. It was at this point that I got very scared. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. That made my reality very unpredictable. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. I wasn’t exactly sure how. I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. wealth. sometimes concurrently. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. Personally. I could learn from my own experience. So how do you practise intention? 70 . And that is what I did. in both worlds.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. And it was at this point that I got very excited. before I accepted responsibility. whilst at the same time creating violence. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. illness.

If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. But more than anything else I practised judo. and the Tao Te Ching. until I was 71 . Not just your own intention. I actually lived and breathed judo. I watched judo. with study and diligence. if you desire. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. It is in the Bible. until I could close my eyes and feel them. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. Search out the truth from another source. I talked judo.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. the Koran. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo.

hearing it. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. you’ll start to see some decent movement. reading it. you will get weekend results. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. or the opportunities to make it. intention is about everything I do. 72 . The Elephant and the Twig. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). into my life. they see and fear illness. then I do the same thing. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. For me. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. read it. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. Buy the books (my book. You start by investing in the information and instruction. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. they talk it. If you practise four or five times a week.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. If you make it your life. If you are a weekend player. Intention is no different. If it is wealth I am after. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). They think illness.

The scan was clear. in a short time. Then she had a thought. Interestingly. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. There was nothing physically wrong with her. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She had no tumour. as soon as she got the results. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. It wasn’t always that way.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. sometimes months at a time. She is at the top of her field. She thought about it all day long. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. the sight in her left eye returned. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye.

and doing involves thinking. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. you can become an authority. feeling. He was wrong. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. Why not try? 74 . the process is the same.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. You practise by doing. He was earning $20 million. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. And if you intend enough. hearing. Intention is a very learnable technique. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. seeing.

pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. physically-stretching. another gruelling. But how brave are we? 75 . admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. It’s good to be brave. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. We get a pat on the back.Chapter 13 Looking Out. how very fucking invigorating. how exciting. How brave. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. a trophy. The elements are conquered. Looking In Another marathon. another black belt. a medal.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. I let me (all of me) go. you have to face them and say.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. but it gets even harder. I don’t understand you. I forgive them. stop working out and start working in.LOOKING OUT. I let them go. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. That’s a mountain to climb. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind).’ That’s difficult. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. ‘I forgive you. But if you really want peace. 79 .

he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. he said it was fear. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. This means that we avoid fear at all costs. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. Paul Abbot. The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. In fact. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him.

They feel it just the same. take a step towards it. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. which means we stop growing. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. creep up on it. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. It is not that these people do not feel fear. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. The people who see red lights as green. So. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. It is only that they change their perception of fear. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear.

Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. It is nourished by those who turn and run. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. Be brave. And when the fear rears its ugly head. Make the decision. Fear feeds on your terror. Be a night-traveller! 82 . When you stand and endure. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. Start now. Be brazen.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear.

defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. Not only was he getting tapped out. He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. and very fit. maybe 22. I could tell by his face (dispirited). I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. he was completely out of his depth. To be frank. his gait (shoulders hunched. I wasn’t sure.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young.

He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing. ‘Oh.’ I told him.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself. Without fail. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. I see the same attitude in all walks of life.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 . ‘You are training twice a week. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. these guys are training twice a day. ‘Well that’s your problem. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many.

bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. The returns are entirely reciprocal. profit without investment and reward without risk. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. People want gain without pain. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. This is good news and bad. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. or shut up! 85 .

maybe one century if I am blessed. a medicine. if my suffering is unavoidable. I want my suffering to be for a reason. If I can’t do this. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. something – a word. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. a sentence. a premise. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. an idea. 86 . We can all endure suffering if we know why. then I at least want to make sense of it. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace.

Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. Every time I go out I am directed back in. There is no joy and little 87 . there are two kinds of suffering. back to my house. That never knowing could kill us. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. drugs. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Outside. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). my garden. From my limited understanding. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. or worse still. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. in books or conversations with gurus. drink. but back to Coventry. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. sex. my body. Go inside. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. Deeper still. left my country. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. I (like most) left my city. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain.

The responsibility for my health. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. an MA. The responsibility lies with you. become the most 88 . perhaps because we are too lazy to change. most of your suffering will end. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. poor. make us envious. To stop this kind of suffering.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. greedy. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. depressed. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. no one can let us down. Become an expert. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. If your suffering is health related. under-educated. cheat us. disappoint us. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. fat or unfit. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. do a degree. make us jealous. No one can offend us. we become their prisoners. angry. If you are really honest. not with the government and certainly not with other people. find out how to get well and stay well. no one can abandon us. we need clinical self-honesty. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. a PHD. if you own everything. perhaps because we do not know any better.

There are no more heroes. If your suffering is mental. Don’t blame any outside forces. ask them their secrets. Scour the internet. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. But information will not drop out of the sky. If your suffering is economic. It can be done. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. much of it free. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. invest in books. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. lectures and courses. History is brimming 89 . put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. You need to hunt it down. earn your worth and ease your suffering. It has been done. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. These options are open to everyone. So get out there. Talk to the psychologically robust. Study economics. The information is all out there. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. In fact.

I am boiling you to make you sweet. In fact. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside. that is. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain.. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. but have become massively successful at the same time. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). I’m not.m. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. ‘You think I’m torturing you. When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering.’ 90 . the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said.

The answer is always hidden within the problem. then the 91 . Right now if you can. if you are brave enough to do that. Take responsibility. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. Address it. Frankl suggests doing something radical. If you don’t. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. It is an opportunity offered to few people. Do what is necessary. But heed the advise on offer. change and adapt. Do not turn away. until you get it. Your suffering wants you to see something. again and again. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. Handle it. Suffering is wise counsel.SUFFERING When we are suffering. my recommendation is that you take it. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. they offer you great secrets. In these circumstances. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. You must be worthy of your suffering. Pain is a great adviser. make decisions. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. to sit in it and examine it minutely. If there is a way out. but leave it behind. we all tend to look for an escape. Sometimes you can’t. leave your suffering behind. If you go into your pain.

It’s up to you. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). No one can help you with this. 92 . Once you take responsibility for yourself.

I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. I specialised in punching. pugilism suited me. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. culturally. the fight always ended up very close and personal. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago.

We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range.). even the most restrictive. from on their backs. a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. Because of restriction of movement and space. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. etc. their bellies. kneeling positions. chair. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth. And you do. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. When you have no range of movement. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. And then there was 94 . This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. Very quickly. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training.

But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training.’ the Japanese ‘qui. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. The Chinese call it ‘chi. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method. it also acts as an accelerator. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. Just as restriction can trigger 95 . an indefinable energy. people become big hitters much faster than normal. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered.’ It has as many names as there are cultures.

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the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96

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Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.

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Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

one I used (to death) as a younger man. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. their wife.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. you’re stuck where you are. the mortgage. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. you 99 . That’s when you find yourself thinking. you give her all your power. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. circumstance or your upbringing. of course. ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. to garden. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. That means that until she says yes. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. to sculpt. or to teach but they can’t because their life. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. If you blame the environment. is very subjective. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. This very statement. the kids. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Success. their environment. People are forever telling me that they would love to write.

The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. it means that. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. As a fledgling. Think about the job you do for one moment. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. And. ‘The money!’ 100 . I hated my lot but. and by extension. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. makes all those you love happy also. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. then by definition you are exactly that. blame and self-pity. of course. then you have to ask yourself. you’re glued to mediocrity.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. again. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. until they favour you.

But I like unconventional.’ Of course it’s hard. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. You see. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. working your brain into mush 101 . it has to be hard.’ you might say. ‘Yea. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. I love being me. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. I like being scared.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. It wasn’t always this way. for sure. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. let’s keep things in perspective here. unpredictable definitely. I hated it to pieces. I love being overwhelmed. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. I want to be out there experiencing everything. I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. My working life is unconventional certainly. I agree. but please. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). even out of my depth.

especially the ones you despise. It’s what we do on a daily basis. (Oh yes we are.’ 102 .) If we don’t like it. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H.’ We are where we are in life through choice. you are right. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. Any job. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. At least when your sweat is vocational. We all know about hard.

Sometimes it completely disempowers me. well. it drains my energy. but it is true. I don’t read it. In fact. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . Actually that is not entirely accurate. I have a confession to make. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. So I don’t watch it anymore. I don’t really like it because. I don’t entertain it at all. like all addictions. I haven’t for many years. Before I recount the lesson. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. I do like pornography. But I don’t judge it either. it is my genes.

(Our main addictions in this society are drugs. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. some people have them all. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. 104 . And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. For me. I want to be strong and I want to be free. alcohol. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. Most people are infected with at least one of these. gambling. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. you closed the door to all your addictions. all our wealth is locked into our addictions. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. pornography and people pleasing. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses.

psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . often dangerous. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. The question I asked myself was. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. Like any drug you indulge. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. Like most people. you have to start asking yourself a few questions.

Some lost their jobs.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. many their lives. Many famous folks have ruined their careers. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). others their liberty. It is a true story. And weak. It needed to be stopped. The urge came on. So I put down the empty glass. I indulged it. This is not a metaphor. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. I felt shit afterwards. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. It had become a habitual cycle. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. And this is where the wasp comes in.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. but deep down we know that really we can’t. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. When I opened my eyes 106 .

It landed briefly on the glass.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. Until the final time. landed. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. had a look around. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. took several globs of juice and. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. He flew straight into the glass. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. He was still being careful. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. each time staying a little longer. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. Arrogant now. he hovered. flew off. When he returned the third time he was more confident. I got the message. each time more confident. I never indulged my addiction again. when he was ready. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. 107 .

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108

THE POWER OF BOOKS

the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109

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One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

Geoff. But in his book he said. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. a desperate sense of general failure. ‘Listen. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. An ordinary person can reach the stars. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. can feel insecure. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. The book cost eight pounds.’ he tells me. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. can feel like giving it all up. ‘we all feel insecure at times.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art.

only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. It’s not enough time really. and we all could do exactly the same thing. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. Once you have acquired this 112 . Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. These people have left their stories. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. He has given me the secret to inner power. That one single thing is ‘me. That’s why books were invented. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. you could. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself.

THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. If you make reading a habit. learn the lessons and put them into action. It’s great. 113 . If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. street maps to life. The biographies of great people are simply that. read the stories. It’s so wonderful.

they direct. I knew he was kidding himself. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. He wanted to direct so he directed. All he did was talk. He lived and breathed directing.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. Directors do not talk. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . Take Shane Meadows. It was all he wanted to do. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. He wasn’t directing. He was not a member of any film groups.

he said. He got a camera. Neither was it the time or the tides. he is going to invest in a course. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. he got his mates and he got busy making films. Then (after the director. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. That is what directors do. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. Writing is his life. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. Writers do not talk a good script. the actors. It was only the money that was holding him back. I have a friend who wants to write. the designer.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. He has 115 . As soon as his money situation is better. the producer. the financers.

There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). They create their own favour. the time. Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. whenever and wherever they can. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. they find the money. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. but because my friend does not really want them enough. with the best folks on the planet. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. the permission.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. next week or next year. He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). Martial artists train. It waits only for you. 116 . He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). They live and they breathe it.

THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. 117 . Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. before you. Sit and write. GOOD. like the millions before. But nothing will move until you move. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. fate does not shape circumstance without action. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. a red light for the majority. Jump and a net will appear. it does not exist. Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Now is the time to act. make it real now. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. Discomfort is good. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. And if you are scared. go and run. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. Set a deadline date to make your first film.

It keeps me on track. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company. There is… NO LAND ROVER. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . There is no Land Rover. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won. Picture the scene.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover. You are on selection for the SAS.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. ‘There is no Land Rover. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon.’ It keeps me sane. ‘There is no Land Rover.

119 . ‘Until you see the Land Rover. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar. When you ask him. working around strains and cuts and injuries. maybe some food and bed. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. have yourself a brew. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. ‘How much further. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. Jump in the back. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. take off your boots. you’re home. over hills and valleys. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. past the graves of former aspirants. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. You quicken your pace.’ Most people. at this point.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. They have been tricked. do not continue on.’ So all the way around. You smile for the first time in days. walking on blisters.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. Home. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. The Land Rover. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion.

but only when you’ve got 120 . it does exist. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. Well.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. There is no Land Rover. Not even a foot beyond. Regretfully.’ And that becomes their mantra. and not beyond. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). ‘There is no Land Rover. sort of. Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. the Land Rover does not exist. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. there is instant enlightenment. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover.

I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. And that will remain my mantra. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill.’ When the film is on screen.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. 121 . Until then is it little more than a phantom. Until then there is no Land Rover. and the tea in your hand.

still reeling from his unexpected response. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver. I assured myself that my 122 .’ he said halfscoffing. It’s what you do when providence lights your day.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). ‘Oh. ‘Well yea. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. half laughing. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. Nick Park. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). I had to tell someone. I see.

Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. When the painter L. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. giant-slaying industry. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. and I should never let him. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. too. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. hold me back. Criticism.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. you know.S. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. They called him insane. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. or any others. neither would I be the last. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity.

’ 124 . he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. not only in spite of his detractors. ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret). I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream.’ Seeking answers. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. He became global. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. ‘There must be more to life than this. I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. Lowry had the last laugh. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. but also perhaps because of them. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry.’ He laughed at me. nails full of shit – and said to him. This is a job for life. ‘This is your lot. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals).’ he said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. ‘you should be grateful.

watch out! They laughed at Lowry. And for those that laugh at my dreams. We all can. What he said next – not just the words. This is my life. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. go anywhere. 125 .THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. It was like a dry slap across the gob. never to return. And I am still doing them. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. be whomever I want.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. And look what happened to him. And more. All the things I wanted to do. I can do anything. things I was told I could not – I did. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either.

their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. then lack 126 .Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. In fact.’ Invariably. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time. or you harbour any doubts or fears. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller. but if you haven’t. far from it. after six months of sitting on the throne writing.

And. Pelé. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. But by the same count. at some point in your development. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. elbow-greased tools. I was fully committed to writing it. arguably the greatest football player of all time.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. Many a thriving. I found the time. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. I wanted desperately to write a book. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. hey. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. He 127 . Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. multi-million.

Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. Or even worse. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. they never actually write it in the first place. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. my driving force. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores. I had no time. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. My only incentive.

Really! In my experience. My want was always greater than my lack. Paradoxically. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. if ever. never to be seen again. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. if we fail to use it profitably. time can be cruel. make the grade. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. But as I said. it will be gone forever. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. minute and hour in the present.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). it accommodates committed souls. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. I did desperately want to write. it can be stretched. time is very malleable. And I know how hard it can be. those searching for the grail of achievement. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have.

130 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. Now I make a commitment. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. nothing will get in your way. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. nothing will stop you. For many reasons. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. I was once one of them. If you want something enough.

I went for a walk in the 131 . As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. You feel sort of needlessly tortured. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. In that dark void. I do hope so. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark.

a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. I liked this observation. Nothing I observed offered any solace. that is. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. Nature has many lessons. Then I intuited something else. But today nature was not forthcoming. Immediately after the fall. Until. It had been raining heavily all week and. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. as a consequence.

WATERFALL

be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD

just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.

134

Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. this minute. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. as quick as your little legs will carry you. It needs to be brought forward and done now. I find. there isn’t a tomorrow. Now that I have depressed you. you know. here’s the good news. So. The novel that you want to write. the time is never quite right. We already know how the story ends. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. We get to choose the meat of the story. Scary. pronto. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. all those plans that you have on the back burner. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. It’s official. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. in a hurry. We’re dying. see. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us.

’ Life is like that small salad bowl. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. Fill your bowl. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. It doesn’t even exist. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. Tomorrow is just another version of now. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. Your time. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. They’re not greedy. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. 137 . we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry. They just know that they only have one shot at it. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once.

If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. whatever. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. while the inspiration is high. how we invest it. We wait. She’s stood us up. a writer. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. the right time never arrives. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. not tomorrow. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. Give it up and be a painter. that determines where our lives may lead. you’ll have achieved so 138 . a tobogganist. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. it never arrives. And now is the time. It’s just what we do with our time. There is no time like the present. We all have the same amount of minutes. this minute. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates.

WE ARE ALL DYING much. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes. He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph.

He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. treading the world stage with the greats.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 . Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. My friend had once courted high aspirations. He was living without a purpose. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. It is easily done. Not that he’d never had a purpose.

my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. ‘It’s all bollocks. In the whole scope of things none of this is important. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing. work that he thought might make ‘a great career.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. or what is expected of him. look at what a failure I am. ‘Poor me.’ 141 . But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email. In colloquial speak.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself).

Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Forget expectation. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. Forget what you think and are told is impossible. I have friends on six.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. Forget what others want and expect and demand. Forget society. I tell you. forget the government. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. Forget responsibilities. Forget income. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. I tell them they are wrong. No more and no less. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY.

and certainly the most difficult 143 . Similarly. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life.’ To which I usually reply. It is not that easy. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. the feel – it was almost miraculous. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers. wealthy martial artists. It was my job to train for a living. Only that it was possible. It was a cup of tea! The taste.’ Of course it’s difficult. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. And anyway. I’ve got people relying on me. the smell. rich poets.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. And I did train. the texture. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor.

hard-done-by or elbowed out. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. So hard is where it is at. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. And what a heap of horseshit. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. How noble. They wine because they feel overlooked. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. as we all know. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. undervalued. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. End of story. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. ‘it’s who you know’). All those who walk around it. 144 . I was a changed man. walk under it or over it. knew someone on the inside (because. had it easy. It is the prerequisite to success. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. If you are good enough you make it.

a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . ‘He thinks he is world class already. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). He wanted to find it again. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. He also wanted to be the best at something. give yourself an honest check-up. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. I remember looking at one of my friends. I said to Sharon. He had lost his purpose.’ She was so right. He could be world class. To be the very best though. though he was unsure of what that something might be. He was asking for my advice. This is important. I would say that four elements need to be in place. global. I can’t work out what is holding him back.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. ‘This guy has got so much potential. world class. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level.’ She looked at him and said said to me.

it’ll find you when you are ready. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. If your purpose is not clear. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great. you have to make sure the second element is in place.’ he said. a search is in order. they can’t always work out what. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. From my experience. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 .’ His dad looked at him and said. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. ‘Dad.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. son. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. This needs to be someone that you trust. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder.

They talk. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. supping it through the froth of your beer. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. smelling it. seeing it. if you want to aim high. hearing it. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. 4) Ironically. It is about reading it. writing it. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. eating it with your breakfast. it is about making that talk ‘walk. And talking doesn’t make a champion. too young.’ And walk. talking it (but not too much talking).WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . watching it. what you do needs to be something that. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. eventually. despite all the elements. feeling it. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. And walk. maybe you feel too old. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. If you are not sure that you can. Once you have your four elements in place.

a time of struggle. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. If this is a time of confusion for you. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. stop talking and start doing. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. Don’t let it down. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. Beware. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. you can say. But that’s good. ‘Hey. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. If you want to be the best. 148 .

My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible. ‘And even if it is. They just 149 . It might help to know that you are not alone. I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments). often even after major successes.’ they say to me.

but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. Loads of people have the facts. but perhaps because of it. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. and even use his fears as a fuel. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. It took me a long time to believe in myself. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. the easier it gets. A plethora of folks can 150 . He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear.

Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again. put-downs.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. Expect discomfort. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. knockbacks.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. So to be a writer just keep writing. set-backs. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. Expect trepidation. All the gold is in the pain. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. criticism. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. write anyway. it is the art of doing. despair and the occasional failure. books to novels. depression. It is not the art of knowing. novels to films or films to 151 . Salinger never published again. Expect the fear. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. it is the pre-requisite.

I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. Even people that I loved scoffed at me.’ If you want to be anything – a writer.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. 152 . tailor. tinker. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. soldier. Close friends. martial artist. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. nothing is. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. To get the gold. you have to get past the fear. sailor – more than the norm. They liked you as you were and where you were. but it is not.

We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. I do.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. I think it’s long overdue. I love it. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 .

it is cerebral food. health was up. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . Energy was up. the mainstay being information. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. it relies upon it for growth. Thinking comes through and from the brain. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. But even with my food in place there was still something missing. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. It was at this point I had a great realisation. Don’t get me wrong. Information is a literal food for the brain.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. This is not a statement of metaphor. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. performance improved. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right.

marry.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. hang out with. admire and mimic. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . Even your environment feeds your brain. and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. listen to on the radio. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. read.

get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. you only get the one set). Stop pretending that 156 . I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. Equally. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. Bad news. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. cerebral diet can be changed. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. Like physical diet. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. Good news first. Your environment and influences. If you have the foresight and the courage. Here’s the good news and the bad news. Like physical diet. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. The good results only last as long as the good information. If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life.

157 . So ingest what you want to be. You are what you ingest.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are.

it believes that it cannot escape. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. no matter what it does. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. and eventually. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. Ultimately. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. . young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9.

the first self-help guide of its kind. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. success is always a choice . The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper. knows this better than most.That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky. now a martial arts expert. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field.How to practise the art of personal transformation.Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. you will learn: . step by step . In Shape Shifter.That with the right strategy and approach. screenwriter.

com www.geoffthompson.com .summersdale.www.

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